This article first appeared in the the HR & Education Section of Singapore Business Review portal on 20 March 2013. http://sbr.com.sg/hr-education/commentary/top-3-secrets-high-performance-teams
Productivity is a big buzzword everywhere today, and companies are always looking for ways to increase productivity through their employees.
One effective way to increase productivity is for employers to look at creating high performance teams within their organisations, instead of focusing on individual productivity.
What High Performing Teams are Not
High performance teams do not happen by chance. They are formed through very deliberate and well-planned steps.
Contrary to common belief, high performance teams are not created simply by having shared values, a well-defined corporate vision and mission. Neither are high performance teams created simply by having great workflows and systems.
What then are the secrets to creating high performing teams?
The Three Secrets To Creating A High Performance Team
SECRET #1: Get the Right People on Board
If you want to create a high performance team, the most fundamental and critical thing you need to do is to get the RIGHT people on your team.
Jim Collins, author of the best-selling book Good to Great, writes about how some company executives transformed their companies from good to great. According to Collins, “If we get the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats, and the wrong people off the bus, then we’ll figure out how to take it someplace great.”
It is about getting the right people on board.
SECRET #2: Manage It Right, after You Get the Team Right
Once you have the right team in place, you need to manage it in the right way.
Here are 2 ways to do that:
Just like in any team, you need to build trust. Without trust as the foundation, anything you do will be on shaky ground. Building trust requires everyone on the team to be sincere, authentic and altruistic. However, not everyone is capable of that, and this is why it is critical for you to ensure you have the right people on board in the first place.
A common and regularly dispensed piece of advice to teams is that they need to embrace Open Communications in order to be able to work effectively together.
However, high performance teams require more than just open communications. What is required is Dialogue.
Dialogue goes much further and deeper than open communications. Everyone on the team is viewed and treated as equals. During team dialogues, everyone gets equal weight and airtime in terms of contributing comments, suggestions and ideas.
Authority in high performance teams are relegated to the background. Relegating all authority, power and position titles is one of the most difficult things to do in practice and this is why you need the right types of people on the team – and this also applies to the team leader.
SECRET #3: Establish a Winning Culture
Once you have the right people on board and you have established the norms of communication through dialogues, you are well on your way to building a winning team culture.
Culture is the way people think, work and interact with one another in the organisation or a team.
In building the culture of a high performance team, you will look into creating workflows, systems and team norms that will facilitate the transformation and the crystallization of your team into a high performance team.
High performance teams do not happen by chance and they do not form by themselves. To build high performance teams, deliberate steps need to be taken.
The objective is to develop the team, not specific individuals. Once you have the right people on board, you will need to ensure you manage the team in the right way so as to create an atmosphere and environment of trust, reliance, interdependence and oneness.
It is only through these deliberate steps that you will be able to create and build a high performance team, and be able to boost productivity to peak levels.